On Being Miss Rumphius and Robynn Bliss


lupines by Janet Wachter

Today Robynn is taking a day off – I dedicate this post to her and talk about why she’s taking today off at the end! 

One of my favorite children’s books is Miss Rumphius. 

The book begins with a little girl named Alice on a grandfather’s lap. There she would sit listening to exciting stories of faraway places. She would listen and listen and then say to her grandfather “When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea.”

Her grandfather says ““That is all very well, little Alice”….“but there is a third thing you must do…You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”

“All right” says Alice. So Alice becomes a librarian – A librarian named Miss Rumphius. As a librarian she helped children find books that told them all about far away places. When she retired she decided to travel herself to see some of those far away places she had only visited through books. She travels and travels, gets tired, and finally ends up in a small cottage by the sea. But she still hasn’t figured out what to do to make the world a more beautiful place. Miss Rumphius ends up with a terrible back ache and has to have complete bed rest. It’s while laying in her bed that she knows what she wants to do to make the world a more beautiful place: she will plant lupine seeds. That way lupines will grow all over the country side.

So when Miss Rumphius is well again that’s what she does. She walks all over spreading lupine seeds. And the next year the ground is covered with beautiful lupines. She is now little and old and people call her the “lupine lady.”

The book ends delightfully with Miss Rumphius telling her nieces and nephews stories about far away places. And when they say they too want to go live in far away places and have houses by the sea she says to them exactly what her grandfather said to her:

“That is all very well….”but there is a third thing you must do…You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”

The book is based on the author’s great-aunt. It is a delightful read no matter what age you are and should be on every child’s bookshelf.

Today I was reminded of this beautiful book when my friend Janet, an amazing photographer, posted pictures of beautiful lupines. On this Friday the idea of lupines and making the world a more beautiful place makes me smile. And it makes me think of Robynn who is taking this week off as she transforms a house that is not beautiful into a place that is beautiful and warm, a place where she can love her family and care for her mother-in-law. And I love this. I love that she is transforming a house. I love that the ugly mural on a wall is being covered with fresh paint. I love that she is in the business of helping to transform lives and souls. 

So here’s to you on your day off Robynn! Keep on making the world a more beautiful place — through your writing which we get to enjoy weekly, through transforming your house, and for being a person used to transform souls. We love you.

Today how can you make the world a more beautiful place? 

Picture Credit: Janet Wachter who is also making the world a more beautiful place. Thank you Janet!

Readers – stay tuned for a book giveaway next week! 

 *Check out the book Between Worlds:Essays on Culture and Belonging – Available at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon GermanyBarnes & Noble!



Tales from the Arabian Nights :*Denomination: ...

“There is no other people in the world (says one Eastern traveller) who love a good story so well, and are so excited by hearing romantic tales, as the Arabs.” source unknown

When our children were younger and we lived in the Middle East we began buying a series of children’s books that told tales from the Arabian Nights. Boasting titles like “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” “The Story of Alladin and the Wonderful Lamp” and “Sinbad the Sailor”, they were adapted from the larger book “One Thousand Nights and One” – other wise known as “Arabian Nights”.

Although adapted, these books were not dumbed down. They were long, intricate and involved. They told complex tales of thievery and deception; longing and love. If we wanted to put our children to bed quickly we did not opt for these tales as their bedtime story.

One day as I was reading one of them to my children I started thinking about how much more enjoyable these books were than some of the western children’s books that we had on our shelf. Most of them couldn’t compete with the stories from “One Thousand Nights and One”.

As time went on and we lived longer in the Middle East, our family, lovers of stories to begin with, began to love stories even more. Whether at Cairo coffee houses or around expatriate dinner tables, good stories were plenty and memorable.

And we began to spin our own tales. All true at the core but, like any good story-teller, embellished with rich additions that made the telling and the remembering all the better.

It’s stories that we sometimes miss in this part of the world. We love stories. We love books that tell stories. We love films that tell stories. And we love people who tell stories. It’s not that people don’t have stories in the west, it’s that at times we’ve forgotten how to make space in our world to hear them.

And that brings me to you. Communicating Across Boundaries hit a milestone with views this week  and it’s because of you. You read, you comment, you share posts, you let me know when I get it wrong by not commenting (!) you read more, you share more, you even Facebook and tweet posts!

And you have so.many.stories. So to celebrate I want your voice. I’m starting a series called So. Many. Stories and I want yours! I want guest posts from around the world. Introduce us to your world and tell your story. You don’t have to be a blogger to take part. Write up your story and  it to communicatingblog@gmail.com. I’d like stories between 500 to 700 words but if you have a great narrative that is longer, let’s talk! Those chosen will be featured in the So.Many.Stories series and if you have a blog I’ll happily link to your site.

What’s in it for you? More stories and more thoughts from more people. It’s a lot like the “More Bars in More Places” slogan from the cell phone carrier AT&T! Please contact me in the next month if you want to participate.